Call me by my (weird) name

At San Miguel’s spay-and-neuter campaigns
you can find some peculiar monikers

After volunteering for spay-and-neuter campaigns or “blitzes” for dogs and cats in San Miguel for eight or nine years, Stew and I have inherited the weigh-in station as our permanent post. After registration, each animal has to be weighed so that the vets down the line can administer the proper amount of anesthetic. Too much and an animal might have a tough time waking up; too little and it might wake up in the middle of surgery.

Don’t know what’s going on but I’m scared. 

It’s a fun gig—greeting the owners and their critter(s) individually—but when you weigh three hundred or so animals over one weekend, it gets boring. So to keep ourselves entertained, we keep mental notes and observations.

Sometimes there are tons of cats, other times not. There might be a lot of bruised and scarred pit bulls and rottweilers, probably veterans of dog fighting. Yet some of the supposedly ferocious breeds can be gentle while a silly-looking Chihuahua might yap and snap mechanically at everyone around it.

Unlike Americans, Mexicans shy away from using human names on their pets, and sometimes don’t name them at all. One grizzled woman came to the blitz last weekend with two no-name cats that had to be christened on the spot as “Gato Uno” and “Gato Dos” for purposes of recordkeeping.

You tell me: Do I look like a taco to you?

Some pet names don’t seem very affectionate such as “Pulgosa” or “Fleabag”. Or inappropriate, like Morris for a big dog, or “Blanco” for a black one. Or a male pit bull named after Frida Kahlo, who was a rather strong-willed gal but not quite that ferocious.

During this last blitz we spotted a trend in pet names, maybe two, though it’s quite possible some pet owners didn’t even realize what the names meant.

There was the food category: Couscous, Chia, Quinoa, Frijol, Cinnamon (probably for the color of the dog) or Taco. My favorites were Cappuccino, Cake, and the winner, “Lechuga” or “Lettuce,” a name I would not burden a pet with.

Tiny pooch for such a big guy.

Hollywood also was fairly well represented: Keanu, Jesse, Maggie, Peggy, Lulu, Sasha, Sofia, Coco and Rocky, but I doubt the owners could tell Maggie Smith from Sylvester Stallone.

The astronomy contingent was relatively small this year. Only one “Rocket” (or was it “Rocky?), one “Venus” and one “Laika” (a dog sent into space, one-way, by the Soviets). Usually we get at least several “Lunas” (Moon) and a couple of Plutos   

But as in the U.S., most names were not particularly inventive: “Manchas” (Spots); Kitty or “Reina” (Queen). Boring.

After all these blitzes, and regardless of the names, one thing we have noticed is noticeably increased attendance. The culture of spaying-and-neutering seems to be gaining ground in San Miguel, and it feels as if we could have a weekly blitz and fully book it.

Also, more purebred dogs are showing up instead of just street or mixed-breed mutts.

Most surprising, though, in the increase in the number of male dogs brought in to be neutered. Not too long ago the mere suggestion to a mucho-macho dog owner that he should sterilize his male dog would only cause him to wince—and reach protectively for his own crotch. Call it machista projection.

4 thoughts on “Call me by my (weird) name

  1. Most of the progress in spaying and neutering in San Miguel can be credited to Arno Naumann, who founded Amigos de Animals several years ago. And yes, tremendous progress has been


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